"The more I learned, the more I realized the 'Drug War' was the true threat to our society."
Bret Black graduated in 1992 in the top five of his class from Weber State University Police Academy. He served three years as a reserve officer in South Ogden City, Utah and a year and a half in Davis County as a deputy constable, where he served warrants for Farmington Justice Court, 30% -40% of which were minor drug possession warrants.
Bret says he witnessed a drastic shift in law enforcement, from a community-based policing focus to prioritizing drug interdiction. The cost, to budgets and to society, is immense. Of the multitudes of harms, what stands out most for him are that citizens have lost rights and police have lost the respect that was, before drug prohibition, synonymous with law enforcement. "If we ended the drug war," he says, "we wouldn't have a ever-increasing deficit. We wouldn't be filling the prisons and destroying families.
Bret recognized these cultural changes while on the job, but his son had a police encounter that truly opened his eyes to the extent of the damage done. When Bret's son and his friend, who is African-American, were pulled over by police, the officers had already called for a drug dog. "Why would you already have a drug dog en route to a scene while you pull someone over?" Bret asks. "That's racial profiling."
The police forced the boys to sit on the curb while they tore apart the car searching for drugs. None were found. Bret went to the police station and asked to see the incident report. He was told there was no paperwork. "I found that hard to believe, considering the stop took an hour and a half and involved six officers and a drug dog. The sergeant behind the counter told me they had probable cause because 'the dog reacted and we don' t know if somebody, sometime, may have smoked something somewhere and then ridden in the car.'"
"I was intimidated out of the County Sheriff's Office. They abused my son's rights. I am really angry and I don't understand why every American isn't."